A Night Out in Kentish Town

Kentish Town boozer,
DJ in the corner.
A tragic night swimming against the tide.
The Barmaid taking my side,
kindly sympathises:
You’re too nice, don’t put up with that shite.
She says without malice or spite.
And I know, I know.

For a while I struggle on,
buying drinks for my tormentor.
But the urge to go takes over,
and I leave without a word.

On Fortess Road, walking fast and rapid
I’m accosted by ten or more lads.
Savage drunk children with swastika eyes.
You think you’re the dogs bollocks,
their ringleader says.
Perusing my jacket with measured distain.
And what I say is lost to history,
buried in the moments that follow:

Slow motion with the sound turned down.
He continues talking.
But all I see is an ugly mouth moving.
Already my mind is a mile away.
No chance, even though I could crush his sweet head.
No chance, against twenty fists, and feet, and knives.
Lets do him, says a voice at the back.
And I am gone, through the cool night sprinting.

I look back at Tufnell Park Tube,
and they are gone.
Too lazy for pursuit,
or busy with another victim.

A year or so later, I read about a man
Who got off at Kentish Town.
He knew nothing about London and its streets.
Kicked to death by a gang of young lads:
I see their stupid greasy faces, grinning.
And for the grace of God,
and for my mind electric with anger
and for my legs poised to run; go I.

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